Priya Satia

Nov 28, 2022

On George Orwell's "1984"

A Discussion with Priya Satia

New Books Network 2022

In 1948, English author George Orwell wrote what would become one of the defining novels of the 20th century, 1984. He was writing in the years following WWII and the beginning of The Cold War. It was a tense time, full of uncertainty and the spectre of Soviet communism loomed. In 1984, Orwell introduced all kinds of terms to describe the dystopian society of his novel, such as “thought police”, “memory hole”, “big brother”, and “unperson.” And in his view, Orwell wasn’t attempting to describe a fantastical world with no correspondence to our own, or even just satirizing the excesses of the Soviet regime. He was sounding a warning to his own society. Priya Satia is the Raymond A. Spruance Professor of International History Professor of History at Stanford University. She is the author of Empire of Guns: The Violent Making of the Industrial Revolution and Time’s Monster: How History Makes History See more information on our website,

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